Miller Center

Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

What to Expect in the Second Term: Presidential Travel and the Rise of Legacy Building

President George W. Bush and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili meet in Tbilisi Tuesday, May 10, 2005.

President George W. Bush and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili meet in Tbilisi Tuesday, May 10, 2005. White House photo by Eric Draper. PD.

To date, little attention has been dedicated to the study of the “public presidency” in the second-term, despite the fact that securing reelection represents an achievement capable of granting one entrance into our nation’s pantheon of “great” presidents. Former Miller Center National Fellow Emily Charnock has co-authored with James A. McCann and Kathryn Dunn Tenpas a new paper published by the Brookings Institution that examines presidential travel from President Eisenhower through George W. Bush. If President Obama follows in the footsteps of his predecessors, he will spend less time over the next four years in swing states and more time abroad. Charnock, McCann and Tenpas analyze second-term presidential travel, revealing a distinct uptick in international travel and the demise of the permanent campaign strategy. The authors suggest that such a change in priorities reflects an emphasis on legacy building.

Download the full paper here.